De La Salle beats UE in a surprisingly close game, in a highly emotional and physical showdown.

(Photos by Raymond Braganza/Sports Gateway PH)

A lot of people expected a blowout as the undefeated Green Archers took on the winless Red Warriors. But UE almost pulled off the biggest upset of the season. But in the end, the Archers ended up victorious anyways, as La Salle pulled away for an 84-78 victory to go up to 6-0. The Warriors fell down even further to 0-6.

It was a close game during the early parts of the first quarter, as La Salle had problems converting from the field. Coach Aldin Ayo then decided to make some adjustments, as Kib Montalbo came off the bench and scored 7 points during the first quarter. The first quarter ended, 25-15 in favor of the green and white. La Salle remained in control during the second quarter, but unfortunately for the Archers, Coach Aldin Ayo was ejected during latter part of the second quarter, as he complained to the referee about a non-call involving Thomas Torres. Ayo got the glasses of his assistant coach then tried to put it on the referee. The first half ended, 44-30 in favor of the boys from Taft.

La Salle tried to pull away during the third quarter, but UE fought back. The game remained close during the fourth quarter, much to the dismay of the La Salle crowd. Prince Rivero and Andrei Caracut stepped up during the second half. Both players saw their minutes diminished during the last few games due to the good showing of some of the rookies, but during crunch time, La Salle relied on their “young veterans” to pull off the win.

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Ben Mbala had another “fantasy numbers” type of game, as he scored 19 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and 3 blocks. Rookie Justine Baltazar also stepped up, as he finished with a near “double-double “of 14 points and 9 rebounds, with 2 blocks as well. Prince Rivero played quality minutes, as he scored 11 points in just 10 minutes. Kib Montalbo and Andrei Caracut chipped in 9 points a-piece.

For the first time this season, King Archer Jeron Teng failed to score in double-figures, as he finished with just 7 points. But rest assured, Jeron would try to bounce back in a big way against their rivals Ateneo this Sunday. Jason Perkins also played his first game of the season, as he finished with 2 points.

Alvin Pasaol had a breakout game, as he scored 22 points for the Warriors. Edison Battiller chipped in 13 points for the red and white.

UE will finish their first round against a strong Adamson team this Sunday during the 12 pm game. And of course, there is the big showdown this Sunday afternoon in the Mall of Asia Arena, as Ateneo and La Salle renews their storied rivalry.

La Salle are the favorites to win, but with the impending suspension of Coach Aldin Ayo and with the improved play of the Eagles during their last few games, anything can happen.

The Archers would need to prove that they are disciplined enough to bring in the mayhem, with or without Aldin Ayo, as La Salle tries to go for a first round sweep!

SCORES

DLSU 84 – Mbala 19, Baltazar 14, Rivero P 11, Montalbo 9, Caracut 9, Teng 7, Melecio 5, Torres 4, Go 4, Perkins 2, Tratter 0, Paraiso 0, Rivero R 0

UE 78 – Pasaol 22, Batiller 13, Varilla 8, Derige 8, Manalang 7, Palma 7, De Leon 4, Bartolome 4, Penuela 4, Charcos 1, Gagate 0, Olayon 0, Abanto 0, Armenion 0, Acuno 0

QUARTER SCORES; 25-15, 44-30, 62-55, 84-78